3 min read  | Deir e-Zor, Hama, Politics

Syria Direct: News Update 1-21-15


January 21, 2015

Barrel bomb on Kurdish sheep market

Regime helicopters dropped at least one barrel bomb on a sheep market in a primarily Kurdish town in Al-Hasakah province on Tuesday, killing dozens of civilians and wounding more than 100 others as tensions between Kurdish forces and the regime continue to escalate in the province, reported the pro-opposition Sham News Network.

Khansa hospital, located south of the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli, said that it received at least 30 bodies after the attack, while later accounts say that more than 50 people were killed, according to pro-opposition news agency All4Syria. 

The attack comes in the wake of fighting between regime forces and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG] in the provincial capital of Al-Hasakah, which the two parties rule jointly, over the weekend after months of relative stability. 

Official state news SANA said that the Tuesday attack was targeting members of the Islamic State, which also has a presence in the province.

In related news, the YPG reportedly arrested 68 pro-regime soldiers in the Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain in Al-Hasakah province on Tuesday, said All4Syria.

Hasaka123Regime barrel bomb kills dozens in Kurdish market on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Hamzeh al-Khatib.

IS arrests in Mayadeen

The Islamic State (IS) conducted a campaign of arrests Tuesday night against former FSA and Jabhat a-Nusra fighters in the city of Mayadeen in Deir e-Zor province, reported pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor Under Fire.

IS-affiliated media outlets did not release information on the reason behind the arrests. Four days ago, IS arrested and executed a “cell loyal to the regime” in Mayadeen accused of planting car bombs, according to a statement released by the group [Warning: graphic].

Unknown assailants have targeted IS fighters in Mayadeen over the past two weeks. The gunmen have not publicized why they are picking off Islamic State fighters, but one activist in Mayadeen says the group has alienated residents since taking over the city last July.

“It may be because of their practices and behavior…their seizing citizens’ homes on charges of apostasy and treason, as well as [frequent] beheadings,” a media activist in Mayadeen told Syria Direct.

In related news, unknown assailants targeted and set alight two IS cars in the Deir e-Zor countryside Tuesday, reported pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently. As of publishing, no information is available on the presence, or number of IS casualties from the attack.

Death sentence for 10 regime soldiers

A rebel sharia court in the Hama countryside sentenced 10 regime soldiers to death Tuesday, reported pro-opposition news outlet KNN.

A spokesman for rebel brigade Jabhat Sham, which is holding the soldiers captive, said in a video circulated Tuesday that the court issued its ruling after the regime refused to negotiate, over the course of nearly two years, a prisoner exchange to secure the soldiers’ safe return home.

One prisoner will be executed every five days beginning on Tuesday night, he added.

A regime soldier who spoke in the video said that if he were Iranian or a member of Hezbollah, the regime would have negotiated for his release immediately, and that ordinary Syrian citizens are not negotiated for.

His remarks echo those made earlier this month by a separate batch of regime prisoners in rebel captivity in Al-Hasakah, who were sentenced to death after a series of failed negotiations with the regime and are set to be executed February 10 pending a prisoner exchange.

“If we were Iranian, or Shiite, or Russians, Russian officers, or Christians, we would have been freed,” one of the captive soldiers says in a video shot on January 9.

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